Assisting children in the early stages of life is one of the most effective interventions government can make to ensure they grow up healthy and prosperous citizens. It is an important part of the DA’s Social Development priorities.
The Minister of Social Development in the Western Cape, Albert Fritz, revealed that his Department have a range of Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes. They have collaborated with other government departments and created partnerships with the NPO sector. 76,492 children have accessed registered and funded ECD programmes and services. 7,753 children access funded After School Care programmes.
The programmes include early learning, nutritional education and parenting. Currently the Department funds a total of 32 service organisations that provide quality age appropriate ECD programmes throughout the province.
The ECD services provided by organizations include; outreach programmes in a format of home and community based programmes, play groups, toy libraries, space based ECD programme, learning programme and capacity building and mentoring and support to ensure compliance.
The DA-led Western Cape Government continues to make progress in the provision of skilled ECD practitioners. In 2010, the province had a total of 848 ECD practitioners trained by the Department to implement the ECD programme, based on the National Early Learning Standards. This total has more than doubled to 1 743 trained practitioners today. The Children’s Act on programme registration is designed to ensure the best interests of all children. The training of ECD practitioners honours the strict requirements of the Act.
The Department encourages parents and care givers to learn the importance of ECD. Parents need the right knowledge to ensure that children receive the necessary care from an early age. The first 1,000 days are the most crucial period of any child’s development.
The DA is committed to facilitating a nurturing, caring and safe environment for children of the Western Cape.